Thanks to the unwavering efforts of thousands of Mercy For Animals supporters and other compassionate Ohioans, who have spent the past couple of years tirelessly speaking up on behalf of animals, the state of Ohio has given final approval to enact a wide-ranging set of farmed animal welfare reforms as part of an agreement reached last year between animal welfare advocates and the animal agriculture industry.
Marking the most comprehensive set of farmed animal welfare reforms ever enacted by any state at one time, the Ohio Livestock Standards Board has agreed to:
enact regulations regarding the manner in which sick and injured farmed animals can be killed, including a ban on strangulation
Taking the original agreement one step further, the Livestock Board has also decided to ban the practice of tail-docking dairy cows and has addressed welfare standards for species not covered by the agreement.
While these reforms set a new bar for animal welfare in the United States, there is still a lot of work to be done. The best way for individuals to help end the needless suffering of farmed animals is simply not to eat them. Adopting a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle is the single most powerful choice one can make to withdraw one's support from a system that treats animals like commodities. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
According to a recent article in the Des Moines Register, more than a year after 1,900 people were sickened and half a billion salmonella-poisoned eggs from Iowa were recalled, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors continue to document unsanitary conditions and public safety hazards at Iowa egg farms. The article states that instead of issuing fines or penalties, however, the FDA has been covering up these violations by blacking out critical elements of reports and withholding key information from the public - including brand names under which potentially contaminated eggs are sold.
Iowa is the leading egg-producing state in the country, and one of the leading egg producers in Iowa is a man named Austin "Jack" DeCoster - whose criminal rap sheet includes charges of indenturing migrant workers, exploiting young children and being deemed a "habitual violator" of state environmental laws by the Iowa Attorney General. DeCoster's egg farms were also at the center of one of the largest egg recalls in United States history last year, and following an MFA undercover cruelty investigation at one of his egg factory farms in New England, DeCoster pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $130,000 in fines and restitution.
Despite these repeated violations of state and federal laws, DeCoster and other egg industry giants continue to get a free pass to endanger public health, the environment and animal welfare. While the FDA fails to hold the egg industry accountable for food safety violations, some pro-factory farming legislators in Iowa have been pushing to criminalize whistleblowers in order to further protect factory farmers from public scrutiny - a testament to the power of this multi-billion dollar industry.
However, the egg industry's power is beginning to wane as the public becomes increasingly aware of its rotten practices. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, the demand for eggs has been steadily declining every year since 2006. Egg farms are now even losing money around Easter, which had typically been the third-busiest time of the year for the industry.
While President Bill Clinton espoused the benefits of healthy vegan eating on CNN, Clinton's colleague Al Gore took the stage to encourage Americans to reduce their meat consumption for the health of the planet. In a recent interview, the former Vice President said that the shift toward a more meat-intensive diet and the clearing of forests around the world to make room to graze farmed animals is a big part of the problem when it comes to global warming.
And Gore is not alone in his stance against excessive meat consumption. Just last month, the Environmental Working Group released The Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health, encouraging Americans to eat less meat and cheese, and last year, the United Nations declared that a global shift toward a vegan diet is vital to save the world from the most devastating impacts of climate change. Two years earlier, the Pew Charitable Trusts found that industrial animal agriculture "presents an unacceptable level of risk to public health and damage to the environment, as well as unnecessary harm to the animals we raise for food."
How do our food choices affect climate change? Animal agriculture is an extremely inefficient and resource-intensive way to produce food for the growing human population. It pollutes our environment, while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs.
According to a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the number of chickens raised and killed for food will drop significantly in the second half of 2011, due to decreased demand for meat. This latest report comes on the heels of a Daily Livestock Report, indicating that 2010 per capita consumption of all meat dropped by an estimated one pound per person in the United States, marking the fourth year in a row that meat consumption has declined in the United States and the fifth decline within a six-year period.
While it is difficult to say what is causing this steady drop in meat consumption, some studies indicate that it may be at least partially due to increased awareness of animal welfare issues among the general public. Whatever the cause, it is certainly good news for the billions of chickens and other farmed animals who are intensively confined, mutilated without painkillers and cruelly slaughtered every year in the United States.
From coast to coast, veggie food festivals are popping up all over, and thriving in some of the most unlikely communities across the country. An exciting new video entitled VegFest Mash-Up--brought to you by VegNews TV and Our Hen House--takes viewers on a visual tour of four of this year's most exciting vegetarian food festivals!
Good news for all of the compassionate, health-conscious people out there! Today, Dr. Michael Greger, physician and internationally renowned nutrition educator, is launching a 365-day marathon of daily video posts at NutritionFacts.org.
In a world of sometimes confusing nutritional advice, Dr. Greger boils it down to the straight facts, using only the latest research in strictly science-based clinical nutrition. A powerful tool, NutritionFacts.org helps consumers navigate through food and beverage industry propaganda, and conflicting media reports to make healthy eating easier for everyone.
Accompanying the informative video series will be regular blog posts, breaking news stories, assessments of scholarly literature, and an interactive question and answer component.
To improve your health and fight disease by learning the latest in what science has to say about the food you're eating, visit NutritionFacts.org.
For delicious and nutritious recipes or more information on the health benefits of a vegan diet, please visit ChooseVeg.com.
Per capita meat consumption in the United States has been slowly but steadily declining in the last few years, as more and more people become aware of the devastating impact animal agriculture is having on human health, the environment and animal welfare. Seemingly more interested in corporate welfare than the well-being of animals, or even its own citizens, the United States government announced last week that it will be buying $40-million-worth of surplus chicken flesh to help the "ailing" factory farming industry.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the chicken bailout, combined with similar buyouts last year, gives chicken factory farmers "an extra $86 million in government chicken purchases above the roughly $100 million the USDA buys in scheduled chicken purchases for a year." All of this government aid is in addition to the estimated $1.25 billion the chicken industry saved per year in feed costs from 1997 to 2005 due to taxpayer-funded subsidies.
The fact that the federal government is attempting to circumvent the free market by helping the failing factory farming industry stay afloat should come as no surprise to those who are aware of the immense political power that Corporate Agribusiness has in this country. But its power is fading fast, as compassionate consumers switch to healthier plant-based food options and concerned citizens lobby their elected officials for agricultural subsidy reforms.
As more Americans, including Ellen Degeneres and President Bill Clinton, take a stand against the dietary status quo by adopting healthy and humane vegan lifestyles, the cracks in the factory farming façade are beginning to show. Help us widen those cracks by voting for a kinder world every time you sit down to eat. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
According to an article on CNN Health, former President Bill Clinton now considers himself a vegan. After undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, Clinton says he cut down his calories and lowered his cholesterol intake, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't until he adopted a mostly plant-based diet that Clinton began seeing marked improvements in his health.
Last September, Clinton described his diet as mostly vegan, as he experimented with healthy eating to alleviate his heart disease. Since then, he has lost 20 pounds and lowered his cholesterol to healthy levels. Fully embracing veganism, Clinton tells CNN's Sanjay Gupta that he likes the food he is eating now.
"All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy," says Clinton.
Not content with simply improving his own health, Clinton has teamed up with the American Heart Association to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of healthy eating and exercise for school children.
Motivated to follow the presidential lead and explore vegan living? Check out ChooseVeg.com for helpful tips and delicious vegan recipes.
MFA volunteers brought a message of mercy and compassion to thousands of people in the greater Chicagoland area this weekend, raising awareness about the plights of farmed animals and the many benefits of healthy, cruelty-free eating.
Attendees were also treated to free samples of SO Delicious vegan ice cream and offered an opportunity to earn a dollar by watching a 4-minute segment of MFA's powerful new documentary Farm to Fridge. After trying delicious vegan treats and bearing witness to the cruelties inherent in raising and killing animals for food during the "Paid-Per-View" screenings, many participants were moved to begin exploring veganism.
Interested in volunteering with MFA and helping to create a kinder world for all animals? Click here to sign up for future events. Don't live near an MFA office? Click here for helpful tips on how to get active for animals in your area.
According to a recent article in Sustainable Food News, foodservice marketing research firm Technomic has released a report indicating that 21 percent of university and college students limit their meat consumption by sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet, cutting out certain types of meat, or eating meat only occasionally.
This comes as little surprise after another study by Bon Appétit Management Co., a company that manages more than 4,000 corporate, college and university dining services, found that vegetarianism has gone up 50 percent and veganism has doubled on college campuses in the last four years.
If you're a high school or college student and your school is lacking in quality plant-based meal options, consider organizing a campaign to get more vegan options in your school cafeterias. Check out this helpful Guide to Veganizing Your University's Cafeteria and corresponding video for tips on how to get started. If you're not in school, consider approaching local restaurants about carrying more vegan options. MFA's Vegetarian Resource Guide for Restaurants is loaded with information and tips to help restaurant owners and managers capitalize on the growing demand for vegan foods.
Not vegan yet? Check out ChooseVeg.com for delicious recipes and helpful tips on how to transition to a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle.
Vegetarian strongman Patrik Baboumian recently took the crown at Germany's Strongest Man 2011 competition, showcasing the power of a healthy, plant-based diet. Baboumian, already considered one of the strongest men alive, has held the log lift world record since 2009 and in 2010 he set a new German heavyweight log lifting record of 397 pounds.
Featured in the upcoming documentary Tour de Force, Baboumian credits vegetarianism for his enormous success, stating on his blog that "being vegetarian makes you a better athlete!"
World-class athletes like Patrik Baboumian, Carl Lewis, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek and many others are living proof that humans thrive on plant-based diets. Ready to get fit and be "plant-strong"? Visit ChooseVeg.com for important information about vegan health and hundreds of mouthwatering, cruelty-free recipes.
According to a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, even modest consumption of red or processed meat significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes - an illness that can cause debilitating health problems, including blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers looked at the health records and diets of more than 440,000 men and women, spanning a period of between 14 and 28 years, and discovered that eating just 50 grams of meat a day - the equivalent of two slices of bacon, one sausage or a small hamburger - increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent.
In an article that appeared in Scientific American, Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the new paper, says that red meat is actually "one of the most well-established dietary risk factors" for diabetes.
Luckily, with a seasoned tempeh fakin' bacon and other great-tasting products from companies like Lightlife, compassionate and health-conscious former bacon enthusiasts can still have the tastes and textures they know and love without the risk of disease or cruelty to animals associated with the "real" thing.
A vegan and outspoken animal advocate since 2009, the world-famous television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres is using her high-profile status to raise awareness about the many benefits of vegan living through a new website and blog entitled Going Vegan with Ellen.
According to a recent survey, vegetarianism has gone up 50 percent and veganism has doubled on college campuses in the last four years. Yet another sign that the vegan revolution is in full swing, the "Mean Greens" dining hall at the University of North Texas is going 100% vegan this fall.
In an article featured in the North Texas Daily, Ken Botts, director of special programs for UNT Dining Services, said the number one request he has gotten from students is for more vegan options. Responding to student demand, and for the first time in UNT history, cruelty will not be an ingredient in the grub at the Mean Greens dining hall. Instead, the cafeteria will be serving up veganized versions of classic staples, such as pizza and paninis, along with a selection of new recipes using fresh, wholesome ingredients.
Vegan and vegetarian students can now bid adieu to scanty salads and hummus sandwiches, while the rest of the student body will have the opportunity to explore all that cruelty-free vegan food has to offer.
For a comprehensive list of vegan dining locations around your college campus, visit VegGuide.org.
Click here for tips on veganizing your own school cafeteria or community.
According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can be a nutrient-dense way for people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. After reviewing studies showing that vegetarians, on average, have healthier body mass indexes than their meat-eating counterparts, the esteemed nutritionist organization then compared the dietary quality of vegetarians to non-vegetarians. Not surprisingly, the comparison revealed that mean intakes of fiber, vitamins A, C and E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron were all higher for vegetarians than for non-vegetarians.
Unlike unhealthy fad diets, which often don't yield long-term weight loss, going vegetarian can be a healthy way to keep the excess fat off for good, while allowing yourself to live more compassionately by not supporting the cruelty inherent in raising and killing animals for food. With such a vast array of colorful and nutrient-loaded fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains available, a vegetarian diet is not only good for your body, but also great for the billions of animals who suffer on factory farms each year.
Shed the pounds and the guilt by adopting a healthy and compassionate vegetarian diet. To help get started, order a free copy of MFA's helpful Vegetarian Starter Kit.
Candle Café also sells Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts, Carrot Cake Muffins, and other delights in select Whole Foods stores.
Don't have a Whole Foods near you? No problem! Access to healthy and delicious vegetarian foods is easier than ever before. Check out your local grocery store for an array of veg entrées from Amy's Kitchen, Gardein, Lightlife and more.
For more information on cruelty-free living and hundreds of recipes, please visit ChooseVeg.com.
For a list of vegan-friendly restaurants, grocers and more, visit VegGuide.org.
One of the biggest meat recalls in the nation's history is currently underway. Factory farming giant Cargill is attempting to have no less than 36 million pounds of ground turkey flesh brought back from various grocery stores and restaurants after a salmonella outbreak was linked to a slaughterhouse in Arkansas. According to CNN, federal health officials are saying this recent salmonella outbreak may be more resistant than others to antibiotics and has infected at least 78 people in 25 states, killing one so far.
Of course, the death toll has been much higher for the turkeys. Here's a look inside a typical turkey slaughterhouse in the United States:
Shockingly, the United States Department of Agriculture has been tracking this outbreak since March but failed to issue a warning to the public until August. Not surprisingly, when the USDA did finally take action, it was too little too late. As victims of salmonella poisoning suffer from diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever and sometimes death, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding consumers to wash their hands and keep turkey flesh chilled until ready for consumption.
An easier and more effective way to avoid salmonella poisoning and help end the suffering of millions of turkeys and other animals is to choose healthy and humane vegetarian alternatives to bacteria-infested animal flesh. Try a vegan alternative today. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
Scientists are continuing to learn that animals are more intelligent and interesting than many people give them credit for. According to an article in the Daily Mail, researchers at Northampton University have discovered that cows form close bonds of friendship with other cows and become stressed when separated from their bovine buddies. As anyone who has spent quality time with cows at a sanctuary might expect, their anxiety decreases when they are reunited with their friends.
Meanwhile, ScienceNOW reports that fish have been shown to use tools. A blackspot tuskfish, for example, was caught on film using a rock to crack open a clam. According to Dr. Culum Brown, a behavioral ecologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, tool use is probably quite common among fish, as it is in the rest of the animal kingdom. Acknowledging the claim that using a stone to crack clams doesn't qualify as tool use, Brown says, "One of the problems with the definition of tool use as it currently stands is it's totally written for primates. You cannot swing a hammer effectively underwater."
Time and again we see that fish, cows, pigs, chickens and other farmed animals are curious and intelligent individuals with complex thoughts, personalities and emotions, much like the dogs and cats we all know and love. Sadly, the vast majority of farmed animals are intensively confined on barren factory farms, unable to form meaningful relationships with other animals or to express their innate intelligence. These animals are denied everything that comes naturally to them, while those who profit from their misery deny their ability to think or feel.
However, each of us can help end the needless suffering of farmed animals and vote for a more understanding and compassionate future for all animals every time we sit down to eat by transitioning to a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com to get started.
VegNews Magazine has opened the polls for the highly anticipated 2011 Veggie Awards™, through which tens of thousands of readers will choose the best of the best in all things vegan. MFA is honored to be up for "Favorite Nonprofit Animal Organization," along with many other incredible groups.
From our groundbreaking undercover investigations that have led to landmark criminal prosecutions of animal abusers to our creative and effective grassroots vegan advocacy work in cities across the country, MFA's dedicated team of interns, volunteers and staff has been working around the clock to create a kinder world for animals. If you are impressed with our work and the results, please take a few minutes to vote for MFA.
Here are some suggested voting tips:
Mercy For Animals for Favorite Nonprofit Animal Organization
ChooseVeg.com for Favorite Website
MFABlog.org for Favorite Blog (go ahead and type it in)
Need an extra incentive to vote? All submissions will be entered into a Grand Prize Drawing for a chance to win a vegan Caribbean cruise, among other exciting prizes. According to the rules, ballots must include identifying information and be at least 50% complete to qualify for prizes. Entries must be received by August 31st.
According to a recent poll conducted by researchers at Michigan State University and Kansas State University, most Americans support the idea of mandatory animal welfare labels on meat, dairy and egg products. Specifically, more than 61 percent of those polled wanted producers who cruelly confine mother pigs to gestation crates or egg-laying hens to battery cages to be required to label their "products" to warn consumers. The survey also indicated that most people are even willing to pay up to 20% more for animal products that don't come from facilities that intensively confine animals.
This latest study was conducted by one of the same researchers who last year released a report indicating that "media attention to animal welfare issues triggers consumers to purchase less meat." Not only does media exposure of factory farms make consumers lose their appetites for all types of meat, consumer demand for meat remains lower than usual for as long as six months after the media report.
These reports confirm that as people become more aware of the cruelty inherent in raising and killing animals for food, they become less willing to support it. While mandatory labeling of animal products would not eliminate the suffering these animals endure, it would force consumers to take a closer look at their food choices and the animals who were raised and killed to produce them - and that awareness will no doubt encourage more people to look to animal-free alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs.
Over the last several years there has been an increasing number of reports from government agencies and independent scientists from around the world indicating that modern animal agriculture is not only hurting animals, it's killing the planet. Most recently, The Pew Charitable Trusts released a 36-page report titled Big Chicken: Pollution and Industrial Poultry Production in America, explaining how manure from chicken factory farms is creating dead zones in the ocean and choking the life out of America's coastlines - most notably in the Chesapeake Bay.
The report has a number of shocking statistics based on 50 years of federal and state government data, including:
In less than 60 years, the number of chickens raised for meat has risen 1,400 percent, from 580 million in the 1950s to nearly 9 billion today.
In that same period, the number of chicken producers has decreased by 98 percent, from 1.6 million across the United States to just over 27,000 concentrated in just 15 states.
The dramatic increase in the number of chickens raised and killed combined with the decrease in the number of chicken producers has resulted in the average facility raising more than 600,000 birds a year.
"This growth has harmed the environment, particularly water, because management programs for chicken waste have not kept pace with output," said Karen Steuer, who directs Pew's efforts to reform industrial animal agriculture.
In 2008, the Pew Charitable Trusts' report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, found that industrial animal agriculture is unsustainable, poses a grave threat to human health and the environment, and needlessly harms animals. Pew's latest report is just one more nail in the coffin. Either industrial animal agriculture comes to an end, or we all do.
However, there is hope for a brighter future. The easiest and most effective way to protect your health, the environment and animals is to transition toward a healthy and sustainable plant-based diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn how.